Last Thursday night was a late night for me. After Kiwanis we had friends back to our house, as we do most weeks, and we got to chatting and, ummmm, drinking, and I didn’t get to bed until well after midnight. I tell you this not to brag about my ability to party despite my advancing age but to set the scene for Friday morning.
Normally, I am up early even on my days off. Truly, I have always been a morning person. I like to get up early and get started on my day. On work days it’s shower first then coffee and computer and I (try) to leave the house by 6:30am. On non work days I’m still up early (usually by 6:30) but it’s coffee and computer and then exercise before my shower.
Friday morning, though, I was understandably tired and I didn’t get up until after 8am. I didn’t have anything special planned for the day, just some errands, so I was relaxing and enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee when the phone rang. It was my sister-in-law, Mary, and she was calling to invite me to go look for snowy owls. She thought we’d have a good chance of seeing them and said that she and Randy could pick me up at 9am.
Of course I jumped at the chance and I hurriedly washed my face and got dressed, gulping my coffee as I did so. I had to search a bit for warm clothes and discovered that my new cold weather running pants were perfect for wearing under my jeans. And then I had to prep my camera bag and find a thermos for my second cup of coffee and have something to eat, too. I managed to be ready before they pulled into my driveway, though, and off we went to Duxbury Beach.
It’s a pleasant ride and we chatted on the way. Randy regaled me with stories of the owls and their various adventures when they had gone to look for them. It occurred to me as he was talking that I had never actually hung out with them without Dale around and I realized that doing this with them – without Dale – really made me feel a part of this family. It was a great feeling and the time in the car passed quickly.
When we got to the beach Mary pulled out her binoculars and Randy drove slowly down the beach road. Mary kept searching across the ice and I, well, I just sat there and waited for an owl to fly in front of the windshield or something because I think that’s about the only way I would have found one on my own. As we were driving along, an Audubon van passed us and Randy stopped them and asked if the birds were visible. Sure enough, the driver told us there were 2 and he told us exactly where to look for them.
And we found them! The first one was out on the ice and was camouflaged really well. I’m confident Mary would have seen him but I don’t think I would have. We got out of the car and walked across the ice as far as we could (which was not far, frankly) and I took a few photos but he was really too far away for anything worthwhile.
Back into the car we went and Randy drove down the beach road a little further. We could see some cars pulled over and photographers by the dunes and that was a big clue as to where the bird was. Even I could have found him on my own!
The setting was absolutely perfect – the dunes, the fence, the beach grass and the grey clouds couldn’t have made a more picturesque spot to see my first snowy owl.
How cool is that? I’m no wildlife photographer but I think I was able to capture him well. And he just sat and looked at us for the longest time. His head was swiveling a lot and at one point a flock of Canada geese flew over head and he looked right up at them.
I cropped this photo in pretty tight so you can see him better. I just love all those feathers. And, in case you don’t know your snowy owl facts, this is a young owl and that’s why his feathers have so much brown. As they get older they get whiter and then look more like, well, Hedwig.
I didn’t want to crowd the other photographers but they were pretty friendly and we were chatting away while we snapped photos. I could have stayed there for a long time, just watching and marveling at the beauty of this bird. After a bit, though, he started getting . . . antsy. Do owls get antsy? I don’t know but we could tell he wasn’t going to hang around much longer. And sure enough, he crouched down . . .
And then he flew away.
Before he took off, though, I took 110 photos. Wanna see my favorite?
I’m thinking it would make a great canvas print for our living room.
I had so much fun on this spur of the moment trip. I didn’t get to the gym and I didn’t get to Town Hall or to the travel agency but I had an adventure and that’s way better than running errands. As Randy said – “10 years from now, what will you remember? Going to the grocery store or seeing your first snowy owl?”
I’m glad I picked the owl.